Rebecca Holcombe: Health and Safety for All Vermonters

May 11th , 2020 – Windham County Democratic Gubernatorial Debate

NORWICH, VERMONT – Tonight, in the first debate of the Democratic Primary for Governor, Rebecca Holcombe confronted Lieutenant Governor David Zuckerman’s long record against vaccinations.

“I respect David Zuckerman and his service to the state and I’m sure there’s a lot we agree on, but right now, nothing matters more than managing this public health crisis – and that’s where we just have a fundamental difference in opinion.

David Zuckerman has used the word ‘disputed’ to describe the well-established science on the benefits of immunization. He said vaccines should be a matter of “individual choice” even when that choice puts others at risk.  David Zuckerman believes it’s ok not to vaccinate your children. Which of course puts other people’s children at risk. Public health experts aggressively disagree with his position. So do educators and the vast majority of Vermonters,” said Holcombe in Monday evening’s Windham County Democrats Gubernatorial Debate

Zuckerman’s record on the science of vaccines has been previously reported by both national and local outlets:

  • Zuckerman “has proudly fought against government-mandated vaccinations.” POLITICO, March 21, 2020
  • Zuckerman said vaccination science was “disputed.” SevenDays, March 22, 2020

Tonight’s debate was hosted virtually due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Candidates each made their case why they would make the best Governor to lead the state out of the economic and health crisis. Holcombe’s lifelong experience in public service and strong beliefs in science were in sharp contrast to Zuckerman’s dangerous questioning of the science behind vaccines.

“As an educator, district leader, Vermont’s Secretary of Education, and as someone who grew up in places like Afghanistan where outbreaks of measles were common, I know how important it is that kids like mine be required to be vaccinated so that all children, including those who are immunocompromised and cannot safely receive vaccinations, can live safely.

Experts along with most Vermonters agree that David Zuckerman’s positions of disputing the science of vaccinations and his support of philosophical exemptions puts lives at risk. I am running to unseat Governor Scott in November – in the middle of a pandemic, Vermonters will not vote for someone who has dispute the longstanding science of critical immunization programs,” said Holcombe.

Additional Supporting Research on David Zuckerman’s Record on Vaccines

“David Zuckerman (P/D Chittenden) questioned the science of vaccinations. He said that while conducting his own research on the matter, he came to believe that the pharmaceutical industry is foisting vaccinations on the public to make money, not fight disease. ‘For me, as long as there’s the extreme financial conflicts of interest out there that are driving much of this debate and discussion, I have to maintain the individual right for someone to do their own research as well and make that decision,’ Zuckerman said.” [Seven Days, 4/22/15]

October 2016: A Co-Founder Of The Vermont Coalition For Vaccine Choice Described Zuckerman As A “Hero” For Opposing The Philosophical Exemption, Saying “Zuckerman Was One Of Only A Few Vermont Senators To Stand Up In Support Of Parents Making These Important Medical Decisions.” Seven Days reported, “That so-called “philosophical exemption” was an option for Vermont families until this year, after the legislature voted in 2015 to abolish it in the interest of public health. […] Those who want to restore the philosophical exemption have fully embraced Zuckerman. The group Vermont Coalition for Vaccine Choice is promoting his candidacy on its Facebook page, complete with a link to make campaign contributions. ‘Zuckerman was one of only a few Vermont senators to stand up in support of parents making these important medical decisions in 2015,’ wrote one commenter on the group’s Facebook page. ‘I think David at the time was regarded by many as a hero,’ said Jennifer Stella of Waitsfield, cofounder of the Vermont Coalition for Vaccine Choice. ‘He was truly trying to find a way to protect all children.’” [Seven Days, 10/26/16]

October 2016: Members Of The Pro-Vaccine Group “Parents Against Preventable Infections” Criticized Zuckerman’s Position On Vaccines And Argued That Policymakers Should Make Decisions Based On Science. Seven Days reported, “‘I don’t agree with the position he takes,’ said Jack McCullough, a left-leaning activist from Montpelier who belongs to the pro-vaccine group Parents Against Preventable Infections. He’ll vote for Zuckerman anyway. But for another member of Parents Against Preventable Infections, who asked not to be identified, Zuckerman’s stand could be a deal breaker. Although she agrees with him on nearly every other issue, ‘His position about vaccinations definitely turns me off to voting for him,’ she said. ‘I think it’s important for our political leaders to make policy decisions based on the best science we have available.’” [Seven Days, 10/26/16]

###